WASHINGTON — A Rockville, Maryland, day care owner convicted in a 6-month-old girl’s death was sentenced Thursday afternoon to 50 years in prison.
Kia Divband, 37, was found guilty in September of severely abusing Miller “Millie” Williams Lilliston at his in-home day care, Little Dreamers Creative Learning Center. The injuries caused by that abuse — which included subdural hemorrhages and severe rib fractures — were found to have caused Miller’s death in 2016.
Montgomery County prosecutors had sought a sentence of 65 years.
On April 19, 2016, Miller was found unconscious by Divband’s wife while the child was at Little Dreamers. The girl was not breathing and had no pulse. Miller’s heartbeat was later restored while in an ambulance, but it stopped again several times, prosecutors said. She was declared brain dead days later and removed from a respirator.
“During the course of Millie’s medical treatment, the nature and extent of her injuries gradually became abundantly and tragically clear,” Montgomery County prosecutors said in sentencing documents.
“Millie suffered dozens and dozens of injuries, literally from her head to her feet.”
The nature of that abuse, prosecutors said, included some combination of shaking, slamming and striking.
Investigators later found that days before Miller was found unconscious, Divband had searched the internet for information about broken-bone injuries in children, using search terms like “when you break your leg does it turn black and blue”; “can you move your foot if your leg is broken”; and “how to tell if you [sic] leg is broken.”
Prosecutors also said that Divband had been looking for a different job around that time: He had called a former employer, they said, “and explained that he had a child in his care who cried all the time and that he ‘couldn’t take it anymore.'”
“The defendant was at his wit’s end,” prosecutors said in documents, “yet he never once told Millie’s parents that she cried too much, or that he was considering shutting down the day care center, or even that he needed a few days off.
“The defendant did nothing to resolve the danger that he knew he posed to Millie every second that she was in his care.”
Defense attorneys argued that no one witnessed Divband inflicting injuries, and that there was no evidence he intended to cause harm.
The case had ended in a mistrial last year. The retrial began in August. Divband was convicted of first-degree child abuse resulting in death; first-degree child abuse resulting in severe physical injury; first-degree child abuse resulting in severe physical injury; first-degree assault; and involuntary manslaughter.
Divband was acquitted on a second-degree murder charge.
Circuit Judge John Maloney noted that Divband had many people calling him a good person and that everyone has bad days. But Divband’s worst day, Maloney said, was an atrocity that killed a baby.
In tears and shaking as she spoke during the sentencing Thursday, mother Becky Williams told Maloney that trusting Divband to care for Miller was her biggest mistake.
WTOP’s Mike Murillo and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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